7 Myths About Sustainability

7 Myths About Sustainability

Some words somehow end up being buzzwords or eventually turns out being used as industry- jargons. Either the word has devolved into a meaningless cliché, or it has real conceptual heft. So is the word; “Sustainability” which is also always being used interchangeably with Sustainable Development. “Green” (or, even worse, “going green”) falls squarely into the first category. But “sustainable,” which at first conjures up a similarly vague sense of environmental virtue, actually belongs in the second.

True, you hear it applied to everything from cars to technology to agriculture to economics. But that’s because the concept of sustainability is at its heart so simple that it legitimately applies to all these areas and more.

Despite its simplicity, however, sustainability is a concept people have a hard time wrapping their minds around.

Here are some myths regarding sustainability:

Myth 1: No one knows what sustainability really means.
The word ‘Sustainability’ culled from; Sustainable development, a word coined during the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 simply implies “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In this sense, it focuses on the context of all-round development, taking cognisance of our natural as well as artificial environment. Therefore, sustainability is all encompassing.

Myth 2: Sustainability is all about the environment.
The primary objective of the Brundtland Commission which led the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development originally focused on finding ways to let poor nations catch up to richer ones in terms of standard of living. That goal meant giving under-developed and developing countries better access to natural resources, including water, energy and food—all of which come, one way or another, from the environment.

Whilst under-developed and the developing world makes effort towards catching up to her counterparts, we must be kept abreast that this can be achieved via human capacity building and harnessing economic potentials other than just environmental concerns.

Myth 3: It’s all about recycling.

Whilst the environmental paradigm of sustainability enshrines recycling, numerous other aspects of saving the earth is as important as recycling. Whilst we may embrace going ‘green’ by recycling our items in a bid to mitigate proliferation of unused items, we would need to be reminded that protecting our shorelines, conserving biodiversity and reducing our carbon footprint (most especially in the developed world) is darer to us. Therefore, if you think sustainability and all that comes to mind is recycling, then you need to think again and reflect.

Myth 4: Sustainability has no foot in Developing World Yet

Some individuals are of opinion that since 70% of the world’s emission comes from the developed world, then developing world should be spared and the developed world allowed to solve the problems that was created. So, do we wait till we are drown in the sea before looking for a way out?

It has also been tabled at numerous roundtables in Africa that there are no guidelines or support pathway on how best to enshrine sustainability into national context and workflow. We must be well informed that over the past four (4) decades, the subject of sustainable development has been at the international radar following the Brundtland Commission led UN Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development of 1978. Following this, there has been numerous intense efforts and moves by governments and multi-laterals   in dispensing several billions of dollars into research, consultations and sessions towards proffering solutions to halting and addressing perceived challenges.  Although, relatively new in Africa, the last two decades has seen African countries under the auspices of African Union (AU) adopting guidelines and agendas such as the Agenda2063, conference on financing for development (FFD), the Addis Ababa Actionable Agenda (AAAA) amongst others. Still in the past two decades, having received data revealing promising facts, actors in Nigeria’s private sector and multilateral have thrown their hats into the wind by leading various sustainability initiatives individually or collectively under notable auspices such as the NSBP, WCBSD amongst others.

If the benefits of “shared prosperity” comes to mind, then Sustainability is for the developing world. Therefore, Nigeria must strive to benefit all.

Myth 5: New technology is always the answer.
The world is ricocheting, and no nation aspires to be left behind. Whilst organisations in the developing world such as Nigeria embraces new technology in a bid towards seamless businesses, we must be cautious to scrutinise the pros and cons because not all technology is sustainable and not all embodies sustainability at workplace. For instance, technology that possess health hazards via heating vent to handlers may not be the answer if it doesn’t accommodate provision for a substitute cooling system.

Myth 6: Sustainability is just too expensive.
According to CERES, more than one-fourth of fortune 500 companies in the US has developed sustainability strategies, embarked on sustainability reporting and set targets. Of course, do you think all these companies can all be wrong?

Not because they have the “abundant resources’’ to launch initiatives is the rationale why they resolve to doing this but because it is palpable, that they have clearly seen economic gains and a pathway that would enhance their responsibility as well as boost their reputation.

In fact, in US, “DuPont made investments that reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent over 1990 levels. They stated to have saved $2 billion.” In Nigeria, Access Bank Plc embarked on a sustainability journey over a decade ago and has reported saving of hundreds of millions of Naira, vivaciously boosted her reputation and attracted more concerned international investors.

Would you rather not identify inefficiencies and risks, strength your corporate transparency, enhance brand image, predict best return on investment (ROI), strengthen your loan power, attract investors?  Wouldn’t you like to be that organisation unleashing economic potential as well as being the haven for all?

Myth 7: Sustainability is ultimately a population problem.

Environmental problems may be directly or indirectly related to population. If the world’s population were only 100 million people, we would be hard-pressed to generate enough waste to overwhelm nature’s clean up systems. We could dump all our trash in a landfill in some remote area, and nobody would notice. Unfortunately, this is not the status quo.

In an interesting country such as Nigeria, the population continues to soar unprecedentedly and exponentially with no perceived control measure. Recently, the United Nations (UN) debunked the official population figure of  Nigeria as 150million and estimated this to a whopping 191million. A huge gap, indeed. Whilst sustainable urban development experts opine that population would continue to increase, urban sprawl would be the order of the day. As UN-Habitat estimates that two-third of population in developing countries would move to the cities, the AFDB stipulates that Africa’s population would increase to 50% in 2030 and to 60% by 2050. Also, the UN projects that the planet will have to sustain another 2.6 billion by 2050. Therefore, there is no way to reduce the population significantly without trampling egregiously on individual rights.

This implies that population increase isn’t the only  problem but adjusting our seat belts towards facing realities on adapting and coping across all endeavours taking into consideration  And addressing such concerns as urban sprawl, smart transportation systems, environmental health concerns, integrated waste management systems amongst hordes of sustainability matrix.

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